by Lilly O’Connell, Sarah Bowen, and Erinn Brooks
Here are the updates on 4 more of our Southeast Raleigh mini-grantees. Applications for 2015 are now open, so please consider applying and we could be highlighting you next year!
NC Fair Share CDC
NC Fair Share CDC received a mini-grant from Voices into Action to support their urban gardening and youth leadership initiatives. Akiba Byrd, a long time activist and former resident and Maurice Small a current resident of Southeast Raleigh who co-lead this initiative, worked with several area youth this summer to cultivate community gardens on East Martin Street, Oakwood St and South Saunders Street, among other sites— in total, NC Fair Share CDC’s urban gardens cover more than half an acre of land.
At the East Martin Street and Oakwood St. gardens, students learn traditional gardening practices using garden boxes and planting in-ground. At the South Saunders Street site, students have transformed a section of a parking lot into a raised garden by layering compost and woodchips directly on to the pavement. They are also constructing an indoor mushroom chamber at this site. In addition, Akiba and NC Fair Share CDC have several “aquaponic” systems in the works—in an aquaponic garden, fish are grown for food, and their wastes are used to fertilize plants that filter and clean the water, which can then be recycled back into the fish tanks.
Akiba is hopeful that by next summer, they will have a large number of students interested in helping, and will be able to grow enough food in the community garden to share it with community members. His long-term goal is to teach students not only how to garden, but also how to be strong community leaders. If you are interested in learning more about the garden, contact Akiba Byrd at 919-786-7474.
Ismael Ba shouted, “Let’s go! Best life ever!” as he led participants through cardiovascular and strength-training exercises (of 50 repetitions each!) on a rainy Saturday morning. Ismael and Jereel Ba run the Agape Word Fellowship fitness class (nicknamed “AWF Fitness”) every Saturday morning at 8am. The class is open to all community members and provides, for free, the services that cost top-dollar at many gyms. People of any fitness level (or no fitness level at all!) can attend, and they are sure to leave sweaty and out-of-breath, but never feeling bored or unwelcomed. Alongside all of his excitement and intensity, Ismael describes modifications for each exercise so that people of all ages and abilities can participate in the workout. Even kids are welcome to attend, and they often bring the most liveliness to this early-Saturday-morning class!
Ismael and Jereel typically set up the AWF Fitness class in the grassy, outdoor space that Agape Word Fellowship has to offer. Participants get to use state-of-the-art fitness equipment purchased with a Voices Into Action mini-grant, including medicine balls, yoga mats, jump ropes, and resistance bands. Even when the class gets pushed inside, Ismael teaches participants lunges, squats, planks, and mountain-climbers that require no equipment at all. In addition to getting a great workout, participants learn a variety of exercises that only take a few minutes and can be done from home.
The Poe Center for Health Education received a mini-grant from Voices into Action to support their “Poe and Grow Garden” where students can learn about healthy foods. As part of their Healthy Habits Camp, students at the Poe Center are encouraged to use all five senses in the garden. Maggie Perkins, a nutrition health educator at the Poe Center, is working with several partners and volunteers to plant fall vegetables like kale and squash, after successful spring and summer harvests. The fruits and vegetables grown earlier this year were shared within the community or donated to Plant a Row for the Hungry. Maggie and the garden volunteers are also working on making compost that they can use in the garden, and are looking forward to partnering with Passage Home this fall. As they learn more about gardening, Maggie hopes that next year they will be able to grow even more food, as well as develop new educational activities that combine nutrition education with spending time in the Poe and Grow Garden.
Grocers on Wheels is a “mobile market” that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fish and meat, to neighborhoods throughout Wake and Durham counties. Demetrius Hunter, the Project Director, started Grocers on Wheels in 2013, as a continuation of a legacy started by his father, who also delivered produce to areas in Wake County that have limited access to fresh foods. Anita Woodley, an artist and performer, helps Demetrius to manager Grocers on Wheels and also uses her artistic expertise in educational presentations about fruits and vegetables and healthy eating for children. Since it started less than a year ago, Grocers on Wheels has expanded quickly, now serving 15-20 sites per week and recently beginning to work with schools in Wake and Durham Counties. Grocers on Wheels says that their mission is to serve low-income and low-access areas and to help fight food insecurity. They aim to make all of their produce affordable, and they accept SNAP/EBT card benefits. Grocers on Wheels was one of four finalists in the United Way’s Social Innovation Challenge, “100,000 Kids Hungry No More,” and they are now working hard to raise the rest of the money that they need to buy a refrigerated trailer, which will allow them to continue to expand and to prevent their produce from spoiling during hot weather.
If you would like to donate to towards the purchase of the trailer, learn about upcoming events, or invite them to come to your neighborhood or housing complex, check out their website http://www.grocersonwheels.com/!